Steps to Forming a Nonprofit: Visionary Stage

Step 1: Determine if it is Necessary to Start a Nonprofit.

Is starting a new nonprofit organization really the best way to accomplish the goals you have set forth? Other alternatives, including collaborating with an existing nonprofit organization, establishing an unincorporated association, finding a fiscal sponsor or forming a for-profit business, may achieve your objectives quicker, more efficiently, and for the greatest benefit foryour target audience.

Step 2: Decide on the Purpose and Mission.

The purpose of a charitable nonprofit must be for the public interest and common good. It should establish a single mission and a set of goals and programs that will accomplish that mission.
During this step, a new nonprofit should analyze what it wants to do, who it wants to reach, and how it wants to impact society. A mission statement should be brief, timeless and descriptive of what the organization is trying to accomplish. This statement will guide the organization through not only its initial formation, but also future program development, growth and change.

Step 3: Recruit Board Members.

The initial board of directors will assume much of the responsibility in starting a new nonprofit. They will determine the direction and goals of the organization and set forth precedents for future board members. The first board writes the articles of incorporation and approves the original bylaws, does much of the initial fundraising and hires staff as the organization takes shape and becomes an entity in and of itself. This initial all-volunteer period can prove to be very challenging for new organizations, making it essential that initial board members are dedicated to the nonprofit's mission and to the success of the organization.

Step 4: Check for Availability and Reserve a Name.

Not only is it Minnesota law, but it is crucial to your new organization's identity to obtain a unique name under which to operate. Any potential name for a new business or nonprofit can be checked through the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. Organizations can also reserve a unique name through the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. Once a name is reserved, no other organization may use that name.

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